Poll: 42 Percent Of Americans Confused About Obamacare

By  //  May 2, 2013

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Healthcare Policy

The Kaiser Family Foundation (KFF), a non-partisan source of healthcare facts, information, and analysis for policymakers, the media, the healthcare community, and the public, released the results of a poll yesterday morning that gauged how much Americans know about the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA, Obamacare), before the Obama administration ramps up its public education efforts that are set to begin this summer.

Confusion, Misunderstanding and Lack Of Credible Information

PPACAThe infamous words of then Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, “We have to pass the bill so that you can find out what is in it,” were uttered on March 9, 2010 and the bill was signed into law by President Obama on March 23, 2010. Now, over three years later, the Obama administration faces extraordinary challenges in implementing its signature healthcare law, not the least of which is the confusion of the general public related to not just the details of the PPACA, but even the existence of the law, with the poll showing that fewer than six in 10 Americans know that the Obamacare law is still on the books; seven percent think the Supreme Court struck it down; and 12 percent say Congress repealed Obamacare.


Other key findings of the new poll as summarized on KFF.org include:

  • About half the public (49%) says they do not have enough information about the health reform law to understand how it will impact their own family.
  • The share of the public who says they lack enough information to understand how the PPACA will affect their family is higher among two groups the law is likely to benefit most – the uninsured (58% of whom say they lack enough information) and low-income households (56% say so).
  • When it comes to where they are getting information about the law, Americans most commonly cite friends and family (named by 40%), “newspapers, radio news or other online news sources” (36%), and cable news (30%). About one in ten report getting information from a health insurer, a doctor, an employer, or a non-profit organization. Similar shares say they have gotten information from “federal agencies such as the Department of Health and Human Services” (9%) or “state agencies such as your state Medicaid office or health department” (8%).

Heightened Awareness, Accurate Information And Timing Are Key To Outreach 

The public needs accurate, timely information about the PPACA and how it will impact them.
The public needs accurate, timely information about the PPACA and what impact it will have on them.

Enrollment will be one of the key metrics by which the law’s success or failure is judged, so the Obama administration has promised an aggressive public-relations campaign, mostly this summer, to raise awareness of the healthcare law and encourage people to take advantage of the benefits it offers, the vast majority of which are set to take effect in January — just months ahead of the 2014 midterms.

Public Opinion Still Leans Slightly Negative On PPACA

In terms of the law’s political future, the public remains as divided as ever when it comes to their overall evaluations of the health law. The tracking poll  found that most of the public is willing to let Republican critics continue to try to chip away at the law, but doesn’t support the tactic of cutting off the funding needed to implement it.

Fifty-three percent of respondents said the law’s opponents should “continue trying to change or stop it, so it has less impact on taxpayers, employers and health care providers,” and just 33 percent said opponents should accept that the law is here to stay and stop trying to block implementation. However, 58 percent said they disapprove of defunding the law, while 31 percent approved.

Fifty percent of the subjects polled by KHH favored Medicaid expansion in their state, while 41% favored keeping their state’s program as is.

Medicaid expansion as defined in Obamacare is also considered by many to be a primary linchpin for successful implementation of the law. With the 2013 legislative session winding up on Friday and the Medicaid expansion issue at a stalemate in Tallahassee, Florida is one of a growing number of states where time is running out for lawmakers to make a deal on expanding Medicaid or coming up with a viable alternative for healthcare coverage of their low-income and uninsured population. Fifty percent of the subjects polled by KHH favored Medicaid expansion in their state, while 41% favored keeping their state’s program as is, with respondents, like their leaders, divided on this issue by their partisan political affiliation.

Overall, public opinion of the healthcare law remains divided and leans slightly negative. In the latest tracking poll, 40 percent said they have an unfavorable view of the law, compared with 35 percent who have a favorable view, which is similar to results of past polls.